Tuesday, 6 May 2008

31 Day Comment Challenge - Self Audit

Ok, so I'm later doing this then I intended as the technology in my house decided to have a disagreement with the internet yesterday. Having spent 6 - 7 hours wrestling with it last night, I finally sorted it out this morning.

Right, so now that's off my chest I'm ready to begin my "self audit".

How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?
Once per week on a good week, sometimes not at all. Often I comment in my head, but never quite get round to committing it to writing. So why don't I comment more often? Because I can't think of anything to add to what has been said already, because I worry that what I have to say will seem light weight compared to some of the other comments I have read, because I really admire the blogs author and don't want to write something that makes me sound like a ninny (how teenage of me), or because I get hit by a wave of overwhelming shyness and just can't convince myself to write anything. Reading all that it would seem that I have a fear of being judged by others! Thinking about it, the blogs I comment on the most are those where I have developed some form of relationship with the blogs author (usually via Twitter) which means I feel "safe" so it is less of a risk. Hmmmm interesting. What do others think? Do you tend to stick to "safe" blogs or do you venture out with confidence?

Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?

Not usually. From time to time I will click to be updated via email if I am particularly interested in a discussion and where it is going, otherwise no. Since beginning the challenge I have signed up for cocomment and after ironing out a few things I seem to be able to track my comments via my blog using the cocomment widget in my sidebar.

Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?
Mostly the same blogs, there are some I visit quite regularly. I do try to push myself to comment on blogs that I haven't done before, maybe only a couple per month, but I guess that's a start. That's part of the reason for my involvement in this challenge as I know this is an area that needs work.

Gina Trapini's Guide To Blog Comments"

Click on the link above if you would like to read Gina Trapini's " tips on better blog commenting. How do I measure up?

Stay on Topic
So the basic idea behind this one is to keep your ideas relevant to the blog post you are commenting on. I definitely do this, I don't tend to deviate with random thoughts when leaving a comment.

Contribute new information to the discussion
So do I leave comments if I can't think of anything to add that would enhance the conversation? Well no (as I have already mentioned), but, "conversation" is the key word here. I'm not sure that all blogs I read and their related comments are always a conversation as such. Sometimes they are simply sharing something someone has done, discovered, etc and not necessarily some form of "deeper" conversation. I might be wrong (or more to the point you might disagree) but it's just a thought I had. Point of interest, I must be a glutton for punishment then, or really conscientious as Gina Trapini's post" says:
"The longer a comment thread the more likely someone has already said what you're thinking, and the less likely it is to be read by future visitors anyway."
I ALWAYS read all the comments so that I can get a well rounded picture of all the thoughts and opinions being offered on a topic. Sometimes there are gems hidden in the murky depths. Should someone feel that they shouldn't add their voice to the conversation because there are so many others involved? If this happens what gems might be lost?

Don't comment for the sake of commenting
I certainly don't. Do people really leave "First" as a comment? Well that's a new one on me - why would you?

Know when to comment and when to e-mail

Now this is an interesting one, I definitely agree. Here's a thought though, what if there is no way to email because no link is provided? Then again, would these types of conversation be the ones you would have with those you know a lot better then some of your other commenters? If that was the case they'd probably know how to contact the blog author by email, so no issue then.

Remember that nobody likes a know-it-all.

Something I suffered from as a child, something I try to avoid when leaving comments now as an adult. That said, isn't being a "know it all" subjective? Does what I consider being a "know it all" necessarily reflect what someone else considers being one? Does it in fact depend on ones frame of reference, cultural norms, etc? - Am I being one now? ;)

Make the tone of your message clear
I certainly try to, I've been aware for a long time that misunderstandings are more likely in written conversation. Though, I'm not sure if I always want to leave smilies in my comments - I think this might depend on the tone of the blog/post itself. It would also depend again on that "relationship" with the blog's author that I mentioned earlier.

Own your comment
I do. I don't post anonymously. I always leave my gmail and blog address if the option is available.

Be succinct

Hmmmm? Mostly I keep it brief, BUT, occasionally my responses to topics I feel passionate about have got a little too long. Sometimes I don't think I've written much as it doesn't look that big in the little text box... then you hit submit! Opps, did I really write that much? Can't take it back once it's gone. I might have to work on that one.

Cite your sources with links or inline quoting
I do my best. I don't often write the types of comments where I need to do this though, it's more a blog post thing.

Be courteous
Always. Sometimes I might respectfully disagree, but I'm always polite.

Don't post when you're angry, upset, drunk or emotional
Don't really drink so that's not going to happen. If something I've read angers or upsets me I tend to rant at my long suffering husband about it. If I'm feeling emotional about something else I'm more likely to surf iTunes then surf blogs - so no, I don't post when I'm in a negative head space.

Do not feed or tease the troll

What's a troll? I'm not sure I totally got that one, I sort of do...I think. I take it this isn't the cute kind with the funny faces and sticky up hair then?

And if you are part of The Comment Challenge remember to add the ” comment08 ” tag to your post.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

31 Day Comment Challege - Behind Already!

Why Participate?

I've signed up for the 31 Day Comment Challenge in the interests of pushing myself outside my comfort zone. I was thinking the other day how funny it is that despite the relative safety of your online persona, my shyness still leaks through. I'm not sure if that last sentence quite makes sense, but essentially what I'm getting at is that even though I'm not engaging in a face to face conversation my inhibitions often stop me from leaving a comment.

Then, on the flip side of this is the fact that I love to get comments and feedback from others. In part I blog for myself as a way of jotting down my thoughts and ideas for future reference. However, I also blog hoping that what I have to say will be of some use (or at least interest) to others - kind of a combination of my love of sharing my learning/resources and my frustrated inner author. Comments from others shows that you are not merely talking to yourself.

With this in mind I decided I needed to be involved with this challenge in order to give myself the "push" I need to comment with greater regularity - to both build my confidence and to ensure that I am giving others the type of feedback that I enjoy receiving myself.

Photo from Flickr uploaded on October 3 2006 by Memotions licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence.

Behind Already

Now the challenge runs from the 1st to the 31st of May. As it is the 4th, I'm already 4 days behind! I plead the fact that I had to get organised for the start of the new school term tomorrow. I was having to resist the urge to log in and work on the challenge tasks.

Now, this already illustrates the power in being involved in a challenge like this (at least for me) as my natural "girly swottiness" means that I feel compelled to complete the required tasks and make sure they are done on time. Which is not to say that this is some form of strictly regimented "thou shalt" type of a task, after all my participation is purely voluntary. I think what it is though,is the fact that you have signed up for something that others are also involved in and you just know that you want to do it properly and do it justice.

I also feel that it is important to participate fully and to the best of my ability as this is the best thanks I can think of for all the hard work Sue, Kim, Silviaand Michele have put into getting this challenge up and running.

Logo created by Christine Martell

Daily Tasks

So today I have 4 tasks to complete. One I have already done - Sign up for a Comment Tracking Service. I did this as soon as I signed up for the challenge and have set up an account at Cocomment. This will allow others participating in the challenge to track my comments.

I have to leave a comment on a blog I have never commented on before, which I shall do soon as there are plenty of blogs that I read that I have yet to leave comments for.

I have to leave a comment on another blog post that asks a question in order encourage conversation/dialogue between myself, the blog author and other readers. That I shall do soon too.

Finally, I have to complete a "commenting self-audit" which I think I shall do as a separate post as this one is getting quite long enough already.

So I'm off to complete my self-audit and start on my path towards improving my commenting on blogs - both my own and those of others. I'm looking forward to the challenge, the fun of participating, the new skills I hope to develop, the new online acquaintances I hope to meet and the reinforcing of my current online relationships.

And don't forget, if you are part of The Comment Challenge remember to add the comment08 tag to your post.